Outstanding in His Field: Coach Ron Butcher
Soccer field renamed in honor of Keene State’s head coach from 1970–2013
After nearly a half-century helming the Owls’ Men’s Soccer team, Ron Butcher certainly knows his way around the field. It was only fitting, then, that Keene State College honor the longtime coach by renaming the Owl Athletic Complex soccer field after him on September 21, 2019, during Reunion Weekend.
Dr. Butcher retired as one of the winningest coaches in the nation, with an impressive final record of 596-263-72. He served as KSC’s head coach from 1970–2013. Even after retirement, Butcher can be seen passionately supporting athletic events at the school, as a fan, supporter, or volunteer.
During his leadership, Butcher racked up not only the game wins, but also many kudos for his own performance – NAIA Coach of the Year in 1974 and 1981; NEISL Division II New England Coach of the Year in 1991; and Little East Conference coaching honors in 1999, 2002, 2010, and 2011.
At the renaming dedication, Butcher’s longtime student athlete and eventual assistant coach Rick Scott called the event “a very well-deserved honor. … It’s unusual to coach for so many decades at the same school. He built a very successful program with a lot of loyal alumni,” the Keene Sentinel reported at the time. Scott played for Butcher in the mid-1970s, and then coached alongside him for 22 years before taking over the program when “Butch” retired.
Known as the epitome of the “tough but fair” coach who demands the best of his players, Butcher’s brusque approach did nothing to deter his past players from singing his praises years later at the field dedication. There were laughs and recurring-theme anecdotes of his infamous “yelling,” but students and faculty alike held unwavering respect for the man who led the Owls to victory after victory.
“I always felt that I knew how to win, I always felt that I could get the best out of my players,” the KSC Equinox reported Butcher as saying at the event.
“Some of them didn’t realize it at the time, but now 5, 10, 15, 20 years later, they understand what it was all about, and that’s the most important thing to me.”
And indeed he did know, leading the program to 31 post-season tournament appearances among three divisions. But the legendary coach gave credit to the players for their role in that achievement.
“I have fond memories of all of you in good times and in turbulent times. We always found a way to pull out a game,” Butcher said. “Hard work, perseverance and a solid work ethic got us results. I might have been an unorthodox coach at times, but we wound up having many more good times than bad,” the Sentinel reported.
Butcher was actually the driving force behind the development of the stadium that now bears his name. Originally, the Men’s Soccer team had its field where the KSC tennis courts are today; the team then moved to Sumner Joyce Fields. It was Butcher’s brainchild to develop the all-grass soccer stadium the athletes now enjoy.
As Owls take Ron Butcher Field for years to come, the coach’s legacy will continue to be part of their success, just as the man himself will remain an icon of Keene State College Athletics.